England men U18s have named their squad for this month’s fixtures against Scotland and France, with Northampton Saints' Josh Gillespie named amongst the 45-man squad for their upcoming internationals.
The side will face Scotland at Billingham RUFC on Sunday 17 March (KO 2pm GMT) and France a week later at Cheshunt RFC (KO 2pm GMT).
Fresh from signing his first Senior Academy contract with Saints earlier this month, Gillespie has been included in the squad selected by pathway performance coaches Jim Mallinder and Steve Bates, alongside consultant coaches Mark Luffman, Sean Marsden and Jonathan Fisher.
The U18s season began with August’s AON International Series in South Africa in which England played France, Wales and South Africa Schools showing significant improvement throughout the tournament, with Gillespie touring South Africa with the side back in the summer.
Following March’s fixtures, England play in the U18 Six Nations Festival which will see the squad face Wales on Saturday 13 April, before matches against Ireland (Wednesday 17 April) and France (Sunday, 21 April).
The festival, which is participated in by all six unions, sees each nation play three fixtures over 10 days. The teams will be hosted by Hartpury University and Hartpury College, with fixtures across three venues - Gillman’s Ground, Sixways Stadium and Kingsholm Stadium.
“It’s great to be back on home soil for these two fixtures after the summer development tour," said Mallinder.
“We want to see some progress and for the players to have developed. We are looking to play an exciting, attacking brand of rugby but when we have not got the ball we need to be organised and enjoy defending.
“Our U18 matches give the players a really good opportunity to perform on the international stage. For some of them it will be the start of their international pathway, a few have already had the opportunity in South Africa, but there will be others that play in March who weren’t involved in the summer so this is a great chance for them to show what they can do at this level.”
ENGLAND U18s SQUAD v FRANCE
Sunday 24 March
Kick-off 2pm GMT
Alfie Barbeary, Wasps (Bloxham School)
George Barton, Gloucester Rugby (Dean Close School)
Harvey Beaton, Saracens (Sutton Valence)
Archie Benson, Gloucester Rugby (Dean Close School)
Jack Clement, Gloucester Rugby (Cheltenham College)
Tom Curtis, Sale Sharks (Sedbergh School)
Theodore Dan, Saracens (Alleyn's School)
Josh Gillespie, Northampton Saints (Millfield School)
Josh Gray, Gloucester Rugby (Dean Close School)
James Harper, Sale Sharks (Merchant Taylor's)
Louis Hillman-Cooper, Gloucester Rugby (Cheltenham College)
Joe Howard, Gloucester Rugby (Hartpury College)
Louis Lynagh, Harlequins (Hampton School)
George Martin, Leicester Tigers (Brooksby Melton College)
Chunya Munga, London Irish (Leighton Park School)
Zac Nearchou, Wasps (Radley College)
Max Ojomoh, Bath Rugby (KES Bath)
Raphael Quirke, Sale Sharks (St Ambrose College)
Jack Reid, Harlequins (Wellington College)
Tom Roebuck, Sale Sharks (Wirral Grammar)
Freddie Steward, Leicester Tigers (Norwich School)
Jack van Poortvliet, Leicester Tigers (Oakham School)
James Whitcombe, Leicester Tigers (Woodhouse Grove)
ENGLAND U18 FIXTURES
England v Scotland
Sunday 17 March, KO 2pm GMT
England v France
Sunday 24 March, KO 2pm GMT
U18 SIX NATIONS FESTIVAL FIXTURES
Matchday one - Saturday 13 April
KO Gillman’s Ground, Gloucester
12:00 England v Wales
14:30 Ireland v France
17:00 Scotland v Italy
Matchday two - Wednesday 17 April
KO Sixways Stadium, Worcester
11:00 France v Italy
13:30 Ireland v England
16:00 Wales v Scotland
Matchday three - Sunday 21 April
KO Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester
11:00 Scotland v Ireland
13.30 England v France
16:00 Italy v Wales